The true science behind the rules of attraction . . .
Love needs more than just the stars aligning, writes Darragh McManus
You'd like to think that something as mysterious and profound as romantic attraction is not bound by scientific laws. You'd like to think it's all a strange, unknowable coalescence of destiny and alchemy and unique personality. You'd like to think, in short, that it's not science: it's magic.
Sadly, it appears that you'd be wrong. It is down to science, and not even cool science, like robots and holograms and space travel, but incredibly dull science to do with something called oxidative stress.
This causes damage to DNA and tissue in your cells, and thus makes you -- in an evolutionary sense -- less fit for the purpose of creating healthy offspring. New research at the University of New Mexico shows that both men and women find those with lower levels of oxidative stress more attractive, because they have more symmetrical features.
But surely there's more to it than that? Surely we are drawn to something beyond the fact that someone's eyes and ears and nostrils line up just right? We've come up with our own Rules of Attraction to help you land that perfect partner (and yes, there will be some science, so pay attention):
Investigative reporters and TV detectives both rely on the same mantra: follow the money. And we can apply it to our study, too. Money: throughout history it's the strongest reason for doing anything.
With regard to sexual attractiveness, it explains how many, many men of questionable physical appeal -- who we shan't name for fear of litigious reprisals -- have bagged absolute beauties as their paramour.
Buy a cool phone
Bizarrely, a survey by online dating agency OkCupid showed that owners of an Apple iPhone had more romantic adventures than users of less sexy phones.
BlackBerry and Android might sound, respectively, like a saucy cocktail and a high-tech sex doll, but they're not as attractive as Steve Jobs' little gizmo.
Even weirder, the kind of camera you use can also boost your chances of love: a digital SLR with interchangeable lens is the money camera.
Psychologists have found that evidence of an altruistic nature -- volunteer work, giving to charity -- are seen by potential mates as signifiers that you will be a good, loving partner, provider and parent. Makes sense, really.
Research carried out by Elizabeth McGee of the University of California and Mark Shevlin of the University of Ulster discovered that a good sense of humour is very attractive for both sexes, but we've always suspected that.
It shows that you don't take yourself or the world too seriously, are relatively ego-free, probably don't have too many issues, and most importantly, are good fun to be around.
If nothing else works in the relationship, at least you'll both have a laugh, and laughing is proven to relieve stress and release 'happy hormones'. As the song says, it's almost like being in love.
Change your body shape
Men are drawn to women with the famous 0.7 waist-hip ratio, where their waist is 0.7 and their hips one. A million pictures and poetic eulogies testify to the fact that men love the hourglass figure on a lady; no straight-up-straight-down, please.
Women, meanwhile, like men with a broad chest, muscular shoulders and arms, and relatively small booty. Presumably this dates from the days when those were needed by cavemen to fight off sabre-tooth tigers.
If you're female, dye your hair
Because gentlemen -- and non-gentlemen, to boot -- really do prefer blondes. According to evolutionary psychologists, it makes us think of youthfulness and thus good health and a higher likelihood of healthy children.
It's also unusual and what's rare is considered wonderful. We subconsciously associate it with sunshine and gold, and we've had generations and centuries of cultural insistence on the beauty of blonde women.
Still, we at the Indo will stick with Monica Belluci and Halle Berry, if it's all the same to you.
If you're male, go bald
Despite all the jokes about baldies, the mean nicknames and the slagging of Phil Collins, it's not all bad news: many women are attracted to men with no hair on their heads, as proven by the legions of websites declaring bald men to be 'hot'.
This may be related to the theory, propounded by Yale anatomist James Hamilton, that baldness means greater virility in later life.
Or get a cool scar
It's true after all: chicks dig scars. But only the right kind, in the right place: a line across your forehead looks terrible, but a stripe down your cheek makes you look like you've survived a knife fight. According to scientists at University of Liverpool, women see facial scars as a sign of bravery, maturity and strength.
Most crucially of all, relax
Because all the eau de cologne in the world won't mask the sour, sickly stench of desperation.